ZX Spectrum — Sinclair Research — eGames.com Video Game Wiki

ZX Spectrum,
1981 – 1987


Bad decision


ZX Spectrum Retail Box

Above: ZX Spectrum Retail Box


The ZX Spectrum is an 8-bit home computer produced by Sinclair Research. The ZX Spectrum was vry popular and lead to dozens of clones being produced around the world. It was most popular in Europe, specifically in the United Kingdom and Germany.


Original ZX Spectrum Computer

Above: Original ZX Spectrum Computer


Main competitors of the ZX Spectrum include the Commodore 64, BBC Microcomputer and the Amstad CPC. The Amiga 500 and Atari ST later took over from the Commodore 64 and Atari 400/800 to become the leader in home computers but the ZX Spectrum hobby market never went away and is still very heathy today.

The ZX Spectrum is not as well know in the United States and Canada where Commodore was ruthless with its competition instituting price wars. The US and Canadian markets were dominated by the Commodore 64 and various Atari models.

All official ZX Spectrum models lead to sales of over 5 million units with a stunning software library being somewhere over 20,000 titles.



The ZX SPectrum uses the Z80 processor, the same processor later added to the Commodore 128. The Z80 ran at 3.5 MHz. Video output was accomplished via an RF Modulator allowing the computer to be connected to a TV, which helped keep costs down for the average consumer.


ZX Spectrum Motherboard

Above: ZX Spectrum Motherboard


Each new model offered more memory and integrated devices but kept the processor the same for compatibility reasons. Some units had an integrated tape drive while other had a floppy drive.

There was a healthy peripheral market due to the number of licensed machines produced as well as the number of clones. In fact, after the ZX Sincair was discontinued, hardware continued to be produced with some still trickling out today. Popular add ons include the ZX printer and joystick interface.


Clive Sinclair

Born in England on July 30, 1940, Sir Clive Sinclair was the driving force behind the ZX Sinclair. Clive wanted to produce a home computer that the average british consumer could afford. This is very similar to the philosophy of Jack Tramiel. Clive renamed his company several times. It was incorporated in 1961 as Sinclair Radionics, then to Sinclair Computers and finally to Sinclair Research in 1981.


Clive Sinclair Research Ltd

Above: Clive Sinclair Research Ltd


By 1990, Sinclair was out of the home computer industry and had moved on to personal transport. The license for the ZX Spectrum was sold off to Amstrad for 5 million pounds (aprox 8 million dollars).


Strong Hobby Market

The ZX Spectrum enjoys a strong hobby market in England, Germany, France, Sweden, Norway and many other European countries. Software is still produced and there is a lot of software for almost any application. There are several forums online and user groups. It is unlikely that the ZX Spectrum will die out any time soon, especially with the advent of emulation software.


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